Monday, February 23, 2015

REVIEW: 'Sleepy Hollow' - Abbie Takes a Wild Journey into the Past to Battle Katrina in 'Tempus Fugit'

FOX's Sleepy Hollow - Episode 2.18 "Tempus Fugit"

Season two of the spellbinding series comes to a dramatic close, leaving Sleepy Hollow and its residents forever changed. Familiar faces will perish and a key relationship will implode beyond repair.

Sleepy Hollow sure did take an interesting journey during its second season. It all started so well too. The first two episodes were just as exciting and appealing as the bulk of the first season. And then, the show had to make the shift into becoming more of a procedural. The show believed that had to occur because it was impossible to keep going through story as quickly as they had been. So the show took away some of its urgency and didn't really replace it with anything captivating. Ichabod, Abbie and their partnership is still at the center, but every week it seemed like the show had no clue what to do with Frank, Jenny, Henry and Katrina. They were simply characters along for the ride. Destined to be supporting elements without any true weight to them. The character arcs of this season just didn't make a whole lot of sense. So when something big happened, it didn't feel as surprising as it could have.

For a large bulk of this season, Katrina has been the source of much menial drama. Her motivations were never clearly defined. Her only purpose was to pose the moral questions to Ichabod and Abbie. And yet, a system of checks-and-balances is already a part of that core partnership. So whatever Katrina was doing always felt like her whining and clinging to the past. And then, she assimilated into modern society a whole of lot better than Ichabod has. All season long she has been crying out that it may be possible to redeem Henry or Abraham. Their souls may be covered in darkness but their humanity may still be present. It's that connection that the show really tried overly hard to explore and never sufficiently did anything with.

Thusly, the big twist of the season of Katrina aligning herself with the evil forces to conspire against Ichabod and Abbie didn't make a whole lot of sense. It was as if the creative team knew that nothing that they had done with Katrina was working and simply tried something new. It was certainly the most relevant she has ever been on the show. Her trip back into the past is an inspired twist that generates excitement. I just can't say that it makes sense given the lack of consistent character work across this season.

And yet, Katrina and Abbie traveling back in time to the colonial days to alter the future is such a great premise. The show has grown increasingly stale as of late and this move helped bring back some desperately needed urgency. The set-up for the finale is great. It's the reverse of what the series' premise was at the very beginning. This time Abbie is waking up in a world that is strange and new to her. She is the one forced to make Ichabod believe her. The two of them have grown to be so effective as partners and friends. This twist turns that on its heads. That connection is still present. It's just different and new. Abbie has all of this information that can help her build trust with Ichabod during this point in time. She knows about his history with Katrina and the founders of the country. Their mission has always been aided by the information the forefathers of the country wrote for them to find.

However, Abbie simply doesn't have the time to show appreciation to Benjamin Franklin for all his inventions or to ask her ancestor Grace all the questions she has. She is on a strict time table of getting Ichabod's trust and figuring out a way to reverse the traveler's spell. It's easy once she employs Grace's help to return to the present day. But the journey getting to that point is much more difficult - and thusly more exciting and entertaining to watch. Ichabod has no reason to believe anything she has to say. She pulls him away from the battlefield so he doesn't get mortally wounded. She changes history the instant she arrives. And yet, Ichabod knows no difference. He is simply a captain trying to win this war. The information she tells him piques his interest. He keeps her away from the worst possible scenario. He takes her to see Ben Franklin, who is much more accepting of her presence. But he doesn't fully believe until he learns the truth about Katrina and sees the factual information firsthand.

It all leads into the grand confrontation at Frederick's Manor. Abbie connects with Grace for a moment before needing to activate the spell. Ichabod distracts the Horseman of Death and Katrina by facing them in battle. It's a battle that could end in Ichabod's death. It doesn't but that possibility was intriguing. If Abbie is successful, then none of this alternate history occurs - except in the minds of Abbie and Katrina who lived it as their present. Ichabod could die in that battle but could still live if Abbie succeeds with the spell. Fortunately, she casts it right before Ichabod is about to get his head chopped off.

So, Katrina and Abbie return to the present and Katrina is more spiteful than ever before. Now, both Ichabod and Abbie have ruined her chance at happiness with her son. She will never be reunited with Henry again - in this world at least. She takes out her anger on Abbie until Ichabod interferes and eventually stabs her with a knife. It's such a tragic ending. Ichabod really did love her. But the person that she had become was unrecognizable to him. He hates that he killed her. But now, she at least is allowed some peace by reuniting with her son again. It was simply unavoidable. Katrina couldn't be allowed to continue on this warpath. And sometimes the best way to deal with a problem character is simply to kill them off. Without a question, these last two episodes have been the best version of Katrina even though they didn't connect with everything the two seasons prior to it had showcased.

But now, Katrina is gone and hopefully the show will be able to rebound creatively should there be a third season. More episodes haven't been ordered yet but I'm still confident that they will. And if not, it's encouraging to know that the season ends with Ichabod, Abbie, Jenny and Irving coming together to vow to continue fighting the forces of evil together as a family moving forward. That's a solid ending to an overall uneven season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Tempus Fugit" was written by Mark Goffman and directed by Paul Edwards.
  • I'm so glad that Abbie was the one to free herself from the prison by knocking out the overly cocky guard. She didn't need Ichabod to come rescue her. Unfortunately, that meant Katrina could track her down afterwards.
  • I really enjoyed past Ichabod thinking he had to physically slide the cell phone across the table in order to unlock it. That and thinking that the technology was "devilry."
  • The show has done that exact same Starbucks joke before - and better. Sigh. Not everything can be great.
  • Jenny and Irving have been afterthoughts this entire season. And yet, they definitely still deserved to be there during that final scene.
  • Ichabod and Abbie's final exchange of "Captain" and "Leftenant" was awesome.